Colorado Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Colorado divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Colorado.

Colorado is a No-Fault state. Irretrievable breakdown is the only ground for divorce. In a divorce action, the spouse initiating the action is called the Petitioner; the spouse responding is called the Respondent. The actions are filed in the county court.

To file for divorce in Colorado, a person must have lived there for at least 90 days prior to filing. The divorce may be filed in 1) the county where the Respondent lives, 2) the county where the Petitioner lives if the Respondent has lived in the same county or is a non-resident of Colorado.

Here are the forms used in filing for a divorce:

> The Petition, which can be filed singly or jointly. There is a form for marriages with children and for those without children.
> The Case Information Sheet, which is required in many counties. This form summarizes the facts of the case.
> The Summons, which is required only if the two spouses are not filing jointly.

The Summons gives the Respondent notice of his or her rights, and it gives him or her 20 days to respond or 30 days if the party is outside of Colorado. The Summons also contains a temporary injunction against dissipating assets.

> The Waiver and Acceptance of Service, which is used when the Respondent agrees to accept the Petition without formal notification -- a Summons. It also certifies that the Respondent is not entitled to any protections from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

When a Respondent signs the Waiver and Acceptance of Service, he or she agrees to an uncontested divorce. Signing the Waiver preserves his or her rights and positions the action for a default.

> The Petitionerís Verified Motion and Order for Publication, which is used when the Petitioner does not know the whereabouts of the Respondent.

The Petitionerís Verified Motion and Order for Publication is used when the Respondent cannot or will not be located. A missing spouse who cannot or will not be located can also move along the default route, but only after good faith efforts have been made to locate him or her.

> The Response, which is used only when the Respondent files an answer to the Petition.

This is used by the Respondent when he or she contests the divorce. He or she may assert that the marriage is not irretrievably broken and that the parties should seek counseling. The course of a contested divorce is impossible to chart because both spouses often negotiate even as they are preparing for trial.

If a couple file jointly, this form is not used because the couple have already agreed at least the divorce and often the terms and conditions of the settlement.

> Notice to Set, which is used in some counties to notify the other spouse of hearing date and status conference on the divorce action.
> Notice of Domestic Relations Initial Status Conference, which is required in most counties if a domestic relations conference of the parties is held.
> Temporary Order Agreement and Temporary Order Forms, which may be used if interim arrangements about spousal and child support and financial affairs are required.

At some point, the parties file

> A Sworn Financial Statement, which is filed by each spouse. This Statement profiles the finances of the parties -- their income and expenses, their separate and joint assets and liabilities.
> A Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Financial Disclosures, which each spouse signs attesting that he or she has complied with the mandatory financial disclosures.

If the couple agree (or negotiate their way to an agreement), they can avail themselves of the simplified divorce. Colorado permits a simplified divorce when

> there are no minor children, the wife is not pregnant, or both spouses are represented by counsel and have entered into a separation agreement and decided custody and child support;
> there are no disputes;
> there is no marital property or the spouses have agreed on the division of marital property;
> the Respondent has been served with the divorce papers;
> a signed affidavit of facts and a separation agreement has been filed with the petition.

In this event, the couple prepare an Affidavit for Decree without Appearance of Parties, there is no hearing in the action that ends the marriage.

Regardless of whether the couple avail themselves of the simplified route or whether their case requires a hearing, the following papers and forms must be prepared and signed at some point in the course of the action:

> A Decree, which is the instrument that ends the marriage;
> A Separation Agreement, which is incorporated by reference in the Decree;
> A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is the instrument by which certain interests in retirement plans are transferred from one spouse to the other as part of property settlements;
> Notice to Set and Notice of Hearing, which may be required to inform a Respondent of a final divorce hearing.

Moreover, if one spouse pays support to the other and/or the couple have children, the following forms may also have to be filed:

> Worksheet A - Child Support Obligation: Sole Physical Custody, which is if the minor children spend less than a quarter of the overnight stays with the other parent.
> Worksheet B - Child Support Obligation: Shared Physical Custody, which is required when both parents share custody; that is, 93 or more overnights with the other parent.
> Support Order, which is used when one spouse pays the other spousal support or maintenance.
> Parenting Plan, which is incorporated in the separation agreement. The Parenting Plan spells out the terms and conditions of custody and visitation.
> Notice to Withhold Income for Support, which is used in cases where income and/or child support is assigned to the recipient and conveyed by a third party.
> Notice to Employer to Deduct for Health Insurance, which is used to insure that health insurance for children is maintained.
> Notice to Insurance Provider of Court-ordered Health Insurance Coverage, which may be used if the agreement provides that a parent provide for insurance if he or she is not currently covered.

When a spouse cannot or will not be located, the Petitioner must file for a Constructive Service. If this is the case, the Petitioner must file Petitionerís Verified Motion and Order for Publication. Constructive Service can be done in one of three ways:

> Certified Mail, which means that Petitioner sends the Petition and Summons to the last known address.
If the service is successful, the 90-day waiting period begins after the return of the receipt.

If this fails, the Petitioner may take one of the following steps:

> Publication by Consolidated Notice, which means that the action is listed in a group notice with other similar actions.
> Publication of Summons, which means that the Summons is published in a local newspaper for five times at one week intervals.

In both cases, the 90-day period begins after the last date of publication.

Publication of Summons enables the Petitioner to take title to in-state titled property.